Beginner road racing in the UK

Hi,

I am a triathlete, 70.3 distance, with about 2.5 years of structured cycling training behind me, and I cycled quite a bit before that too, however I have never cycled competitively outside of triathlon.

I would love to give road racing a go, but I’m not really attracted to crits. Firstly, I am quite clumsy so this sounds like a recipe for disaster, and I would prefer the format of a road race where the tactics are quite different, it is not necessarily just flat out.

My FTP is 297W (4.2w/kg), just for context. Are there any suitable 4th cat road races in the UK, that are really beginner friendly away from crits? From all the searching I have done there is nothing obvious. I don’t really know where to start with this, unlike with running (and team sports prior to this) where it was really easy to compete at a beginner level.

Thank you

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HAve you looked here

https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/events?search_type=upcomingevents&zuv_bc_event_filter_id[]=21

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Your best bet is to look for 4th cat road races, but also race the 4th cat road crits, so you can get to 3rds. there’s loads of 3 only road races you can do.

Depends where you are. Road races seem to be not all that common, especially at the moment, but I’m sure they will pick up (Surrey League starts in March for example)

Also with your power go try your hand at crits, although I warn you, even with 4.2W/KG you may not be at the pointy end of the pack

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It’s a 4th Cat crit, he can absolutely be at the pointy end. W/Kg doesnt mean anything in 4th cat racing, I won 4th cat race from the break with a 4 wkg ftp. if you have a good gallop, save yourself for the sprint, if you don’t, get yourself up the road. Watch the race analysis’, you’ll be fine.

Where are you? If you are interested in racing, I think that the best thing you can do is join a club which has an active racing scene. That way you can gain experience riding in groups and with race specific bike handling (is that what you mean by clumsy?). You also get a chance to be part of a team and apply the tactics, not just have to ride as a lone ranger the whole time.
Also be aware that there are a wide variety of types of crits and road races. The crits on airfields might be quite bunch heavy, but they are also wide and with few things to crash into. If you want something with more challenging corners and contours, then bike specific courses like Hillingdon can be valuable. These are probably a better introduction to racing than many road races, which combine bunch dynamics with narrow roads, furniture, cars and other hazards.

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In London, 300FTP for cat 4 is not actually pointy end :hot_face:

My race two weeks ago, someone lapped the break, the break lapped the field. The guy who soloed everything was around 360W threshold.

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How old are you? TLI races might be an alternative, there are more road races.

Think there’ll also be a lot more races on the BC site come spring.

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I’m in Lancashire (Rossendale to be precise).

A club seems the sensible approach, but I am so used to specific solo training I am worried that I wouldn’t be able to make club organised rides or if I did, they would impact my training. The local road club here do weekly TTs in the Summer, so that could be a good way to at least meet other riders.

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I’m 34 (triathlon peaking, cycling past it?) :joy:

pahaha depends on the weight right? 300w to someone 100kg is shit… to a 60kg guy thats Cat 2 easily.

You got lapped by someone who is winning by brute force, he is a 4th cat now, but wont be for long.

I was at the pointy end of pretty much every race last year, I managed to win hillingdon 4ths, crystal palace 3rds, and podium hog hill 3rds, hillingdon 2/3 this season with a 250 watt FTP.

How can you tell me having a 300w ftp isnt the pointy end of 4ths? use your braina little when you race and you’ll be fine.

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Well, I won’t disagree I do need to race A LOT smarter. Just saying that it’s more than fitness needed to win crits for sure.

Also 80kg and 275W I feel so slow it sucks!

I’ll do my best to sit in tomorrow (at lee valley)

Honestly, watch the race analysis, have a plan to race, if you have a good gallop, try and sit in, stay in the front 1/3rd and avoid the front. If you don’t have a gallop, sit in for the first 20 minutes, then start thinking about getting up the road, don’t go solo, you don’t have the legs

good luck :slight_smile:

Club TTs are fun, and easy to work out what the training load is to plan properly. They also suit your triathlon skills.
If you want to bunch race, then IMO you need to practise riding in a bunch. Especially if you are going to do so on public roads - imagine how you would feel if lack of bunch skills caused others to crash into a traffic island or oncoming traffic! Clubs are the easiest way into this, and any that race will also have dev or race pace rides where you can ride with people who have race experience and can shorten your learning curve. Unless you have significant group riding experience (sounds like you don’t?) I think it would be irresponsible to just show up at a road race and try to ride in the bunch without practising a bit first.
Cycling has expanded so much in the UK recently I’m sure there will be a local club that is welcoming to new people who want to race. Ask at the LBS if you have a choice or contact them and ask if there’s a beginners ride. Now’s the time to do it as well - there are likely to be meetings about the upcoming race season happening soon.

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Fully agree, showing up at a race with a high wattage from solo and indoor riding and little or no group riding experience is a recipe for disaster for all concerned!

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Rossendale is a good club with people who race different disciplines. Horwich also isn’t too far and have a good racing group. You could also get in contact with Manchester Tri club, who have been spotted not only at triathlon events. There are definitively other clubs around too. I’d just go and join a club ride, riding with others is more fun than you’d think!

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Unfortunately it is mostly crits like you say.

Marsh tracks in Rhyl is a nice track, tameside in manchester is a bit scetchy, darley moor in derbyshire has a bad rep but I actually like it because its a motor-racing track so really wide.

I’d echo what others say about 4.2w/kg not necessarily being pointy end - really does depend who turns up in cat 4. My last cat 4 race I got lapped twice but still came second. I’m 315w @ 75kg (80kg now :sob:) and it took me a whole season to get the points to upgrade to cat 3.

I’d look to enter the tour of cambridgeshire - 100 mile closed road bike race might suit you well.

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Thanks everyone! Lots to think about but all useful info.

Disagree with this. That was an anomaly.

Lee Valley is a rank circuit though. Combo of beginners and wide range of abilities makes it dangerous and slow. It really was designed by an architect and not a cyclist, nothing about it fun. Hillingdon a safer (literally) bet.

Ah, you’re one of those skinny VCL teenagers who throw their bikes around corners like you’ve got a death wish, aren’t you?